Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Great Triduum Worship - 2013

Wednesday in Holy Week
March 27, 2013

The Lord be with you

Holy Week commemorates the last week in our Lord’s life and, as such, is the apex of the Christian Calendar, the apex of the life of our Lord, and the apex of the Christian Faith. At Lamb of God, we commemorate the week with multiple special services, like churches around the world. The options are so rich and diverse that a church would have to hold services almost constantly, beginning on Palm Sunday and running through the Wednesday following Easter Sunday, to even hope to do justice to them all. Such a project would require multiple pastors, obviously. In our day, it is most common to commemorate Palm Sunday (Sunday of the Passion), Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, and Easter Sunday. Many have begun to observe Holy Saturday as well. These are the days marked with special services at Lamb of God.

Any detailed advance information concerning the services would make this post too long, so this post will provide only brief information about them. Palm Sunday/Sunday of the Passion was, of course, last Sunday, so I’ll skip it here.

 Maundy Thursday, March 28, marks the day Jesus instituted the Lord’s Supper, taught a great deal at the same time, washed the feet of his disciples, prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, was betrayed by Judas and arrested. Services accenting any of these events are appropriate. As is common in our tradition, we will be accenting the institution of the Lord’s Supper with a Communion service. We will have one at 12:15 pm and another at 7:00 pm. The “noon” service has a spoken liturgy and only one hymn will be sung (“Draw Near and Take the Body of the Lord” LSB 637). The scripture lessons for the day are Jeremiah 31:31-34, Hebrews 10:15-25 and Luke 22:7-20. The message is titled “Passover, Part Two.” The noon service ends with the reading of Psalm 22 and the evening service ends with the stripping of the altar, both traditional Maundy Thursday practices.

Good Friday, March 29, marks the day Jesus’ disciples abandoned him, he endured his mock trials, his conviction, crucifixion, death and burial. We mark this day two ways. While Jesus was on the cross the sky grew dark from noon until three, when Jesus died. During those same hours our sanctuary is open for prayer and meditation. Another way believers in the early centuries marked the death of Jesus was by praying the Lord’s Prayer at 3:00, the hour of his death. Our time together in our Prayer Vigil will end in this fashion. Our second service is at 7:00 pm. This is a Tenebrae service, or Service of Darkness. As our candles are slowly extinguished the waning light reminds us of the growing isolation of our Lord. Each of our Lord’s final words from the cross forms the basis of a short meditation, which services as the message for the evening. This is a rather dramatic service.

Holy Saturday, March 30, commemorates our Lord’s time in the grave, thus sanctifying our own graves. We commemorate the day with two services, the first at noon. This is a “Stations of the Cross” service and is the second year we have offered it. Beginning at noon we travel the stations that are posted in our yard. These stations cover the final hours of the life of Jesus, beginning with his prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane and ending with his burial. The second service on Holy Saturday uses the first century Jewish method of calculating the beginning of a day, which was at sunset. In other words, Easter begins at sunset, Saturday. Therefore the “Great Easter Vigil” is considered the first service of Easter. This is a joint service between Abiding Savior (Anderson), Good Shepherd (Greenville) and Lamb of God. As Good Shepherd is the church in the middle, it serves as host of the service. (There address is 1601 North Pleasantburg, Greenville.) The service begins at 8:00 pm. The service traces many of the typological and prophetic passages in the Old Testament that pointed to Jesus, ending with the Gospel. It begins with a candlelight processional and ends with the Hallelujah Chorus by Handel.

Easter Sunday is an explosion of joy and we celebrate it with a communion service. The appointed lessons are Isaiah 65:17-25, 1 Corinthians 15:19-26, and Luke 24:1-12. We get to sing many of those great Easter hymns that have been loved for years and years. Our choir has two songs they are singing as well. (Though I didn’t mention it before, the choir is also singing during the evening Maundy Thursday and Good Friday services.)

In the past our men have provided an Easter breakfast for the congregation. However, this year, the gas in the church is turned off because of our busted heater. If we plug in a bunch of griddles, our circuit breakers would trip. So, no breakfast this year. However, we will have coffee, hot cross buns and other such things, to share before the service. Easter worship begins at 10:30 am. Bible class has been canceled postponed until next week, when our regular schedule resumes.

Well, I pray we will be worshiping together many times over the next few days.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

Monday, March 25, 2013

How Do We Know When Easter Is?

Monday in Holy Week
March 25, 2013

The Lord be with you

In doing some research for the worship services this Holy Week, I came across, on line, the newsletter for St. John the Baptist Episcopal Church. In it, their “Senior Warden” had an article which is the clearest explanation of how the date of Easter is determined that I have ever read. I thought I’d share it.

Have you ever wondered how they come up with the date for Easter? It skips all over the place. Sometimes it is in March and sometimes it is in April. It seems like you need a degree in rocket science to figure it out.

According to the Book of Common Prayer (p.880) “Easter Day is always the Sunday after the full moon that occurs on or after the spring equinox on March 21.”

So to break down the formula:

The first day of Spring is March 21.
Sometime in the next 28 days there will be a full moon.
The next Sunday after the full moon will be Easter.

If Spring starts on March 21, and the full moon is on March 21, and March 21 is a Saturday, then Easter will be the next day on March 22. The earliest possible date.

If Spring starts on March 21, and the full moon is on April 18, and April 18 is a Sunday, then Easter will be the following Sunday, April 25. The latest possible date.

This year Spring starts on March 21, the full moon is on March 27, and March 27 is a Wednesday, so Easter will be on Sunday, March 31.

Is your head spinning yet?

Well whatever day Easter falls on you can be certain of one thing: The Lord is risen! He has victory over death. All of us who believe in Jesus have been granted eternal life. This is the good news on Easter...and every day.

Blessings in Christ, Pastor

Saturday, March 23, 2013


The Fifth Annual Men's NetWork North American Fishing Tournament is underway! Are you ready?
Beginning Monday morning, April 8 at 12:01 a.m. those plying North America's fresh waters and clear-blue mountain streams can once again cast their lines for a bit of fame, a modicum of fortune, and a fabulous Grand Prize-a $500 VISA gift card to use for yourself or to give to that "special person" who let you go fishing all summer. Ten bucks gets you on board and participation is ridiculously simple (see rules below). All that's left once you register is to go fishing. What could be easier than that?
The Concept - Men from all over the United States and Canada are invited to participate in an Internet-based fishing tournament brought to you by the Men's NetWork from Lutheran Hour Ministries. The tournament will begin April 8, 2013. It concludes September 1, 2013.
The Fish - There will be separate weekly prizes for the largest fish (by weight) caught in each of 11 different categories. There is also a prize given to the lucky guy who hauls in the "strangest non-fish thing" that week.
  • Bass (Largemouth, Smallmouth, Spotted, or Kentucky)
  • Walleye and Sauger
  • Northern Pike and Musky
  • Crappie
  • Bluegill, Perch, Sunfish
  • Trout (all except Lake Trout)
  • Lake Trout
  • Freshwater Salmon
  • Freshwater Stripers
  • Channel Cat
  • All other Catfish
  • Strangest non-fish thing caught
How Does This Work?   RULES - READ THESE!
  • You register for the tournament online.
    • Registration is a one-time $10 fee for the entire tournament.
    • Each registrant will receive a Men's NetWork cap and a handy-dandy first-aid kit.
    • You can begin registering on March 18, 2013, or at least one week before you enter any fish in the tournament throughout the season.
  • You go fishing as often as you want during the contest period.
  • When you catch a fish you want to enter, you MUST take two clear pictures of the fish.
    • Send one close-up with the fish on the scale so we can see the accurate weight.
    • Send one with you and the fish.
  • Be sure to RE-READ RULE #3 again.
  • Complete the online entry form and submit your pictures to (available after May 1). Pictures may be digital or scanned but sent as a JPG. Follow the links that provide all of the information that gives us the following details:
    • The kind of fish (in case we can't tell from the photo)
    • Where it was caught (body of water and state/province)
    • The lure or bait used
    • The exact weight of the fish to the ounce (be honest!)
  • Wait to see if yours is posted as the biggest fish in that category for that week.
  • We'll update pictures and entries daily (Monday-Friday). Only the largest fish submitted for that week will be shown until we have a weekly winner. Your fish must be caught during the week you are submitting it (No old fish pix). Note: A "real" person has to do this, so be patient on Monday, as he has to go through each entry to determine the leader.
  • The fishing "week" runs from Monday through Sunday.
  • Prizes will be awarded in the following categories:
    • Weekly (for the largest fish in each category each week)
      • Men's NetWork Fishing Tournament T-shirt
      • $10 Bass Pro Shops® gift card
        (In the event you are a "repeat winner," additional "wins" will earn you an additional $10 gift card, but not another shirt.)
    • End of the Summer
      • Another $10 Bass Pro Shops gift card will go to fishermen with the largest fish in each category for the whole summer.
    • Grand Prize
      • All weekly winners (except for "strangest non-fish thing" category) will be placed in a drawing for the Grand Prize.
      • Grand Prize is a $500 VISA gift card.
  • IMPORTANT! Any ties will be broken based on who is wearing the Men's NetWork cap in the picture—no kidding! Beyond that, we'll break ties based on the first entry received at that weight.
  • Please note: photographs submitted to the Men's NetWork fishing tournament may be used in other Lutheran Hour Ministries' print or electronic publications for informational or promotional purposes.
  • Fish may be caught in any freshwater lake, pond, river, or stream.
    • This includes private farm ponds.
    • This does not include "pay-to-fish" fish farms.
  • All entries (fish size, fishing method, etc.) must conform to local rules.
  • You may use "live" bait or artificial lures, as local regulations allow.
  • Fish must be taken by pole and line. This rules out the following tactics:
    • Trout lines
    • Dynamite
    • Electrical shock
    • Noodling
    • Jumping in and grabbing them
    • Netting
    • Hitting them over the head with pole, oar, or any other object
    • Anything else you can think of that isn't pole and line
  • You may not put foreign objects in the fish's mouth or any other part of his/her anatomy to add weight to the fish. This would include-but is not limited to-the following items:
    • Fishing weights
    • Lures
    • Water, mud, beer, motor oil, or any other fluid
    • Small children
    • Anything that would add any weight to the fish
  • You must weigh any fish you are entering on a scale that clearly differentiates pounds and ounces.
  • The fishing tournament week begins on Monday and ends at midnight (local time) Sunday night. All entries for the previous week must be in by 11 a.m. Central Daylight Time Monday morning (which gives fishermen in the Pacific and Mountain Time Zones two extra hours on Monday mornings to get their catch posted). Submissions arriving at the Men's NetWork after 11 a.m. CDT will be entered in the following week's contest. Again, please remember a "real guy" has to filter this stuff before it's posted, so be patient.
  • The tournament ends on Sunday, September 1, at midnight, and the final week's catch must be submitted by 11 a.m. CDT on Monday, September 2.
  • The Grand Prize winner will be notified no later than Friday, September 13, 2013.
  • The winner is responsible for all applicable taxes.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Worship for the Sunday of the Passion - 2013

Thursday in the week of Lent 5
March 21, 2013

The Lord be with you

This coming Sunday has multiple names: Lent 6, Palm Sunday, and Sunday of the Passion. Typically I celebrate it as Palm Sunday. Primarily because the readings for the Sunday of the Passion are soooooo long. They include a Palm Sunday gospel lesson at the beginning of the service, and up to two  chapters, and at least one chapter, from the final week in the life of Jesus later in the service. As I understand it, the Sunday of the Passion gained traction because people were not attending mid-week services (Maundy Thursday, Good Friday, Holy Saturday) like they once were. As Easter is basically robbed of its meaning without these services, they were incorporated into Palm Sunday. I have in the past (and still do) encouraged the members of my church to attend the mid-week services and kept the day focused on Palm Sunday.

However, it is probably good to, every once in a while, go with the full Sunday of the Passion readings. That is what we will be doing this year. The reading from Luke’s gospel is two chapters long, so providing a synopsis is rather difficult. It covers the institution of the Lord’s Supper, his time in the garden, betrayal, trials, crucifixion and burial. What these notes will provide is the synopsis provided by the synod.

The assigned readings are: John 12:12-19 (processional); Deuteronomy 32:36-39; Philippians 2:5-11; and Luke 22-23. This is a communion service. Our hymns are: “Ride On, Ride On in Majesty” (LSB 441); “All Glory, Laud, and Honor” (LSB 442); “Lamb of God, Pure and Holy” (LSB 434); “Hosanna, Loud Hosanna” (LSB 443); “Draw Near and Take the Body of the Lord” (LSB 637); “Stricken, Smitten, and Afflicted” (LSB 451); and “My Song Is Love Unknown” (LSB 430).

Below is a congregation singing “Ride On, Ride On in Majesty.” Different hymnal, same hymn.

Lesson Synopsis from the Synod
The Cross and Passion of Our Lord Are the Hour of His Glory
The King of Israel comes into His royal glory by the path of humble obedience to the point of death, even death on a cross (Phil. 2:8). He goes as it has been determined (Luke 22:22), according to the Scriptures, willingly submitting to His Father’s plan for the salvation of sinners. Therefore God has highly exalted Him and bestowed on Him the name that is above every name (Phil. 2:9). His suffering and death open the way of repentance for the forgiveness of sins because He goes to the cross bearing the sins of the world. In His resurrection, God the Father vindicates His people and has compassion on His servants (Deut. 32:36). He kills to make alive; He wounds in order to heal. In remembrance of Him, we praise God, confessing that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Phil. 2:11).

Our Holy Week Schedule:
Sunday of the Passion – Regular schedule
Maundy Thursday – 12:15 & 7:00 pm communion services
Good Friday – Noon to 3:00 sanctuary open for prayer; 7:00 pm Tenebrae service
Holy Saturday – Noon Stations of the Cross service; 8:00 Easter Vigil at Good Shepherd, Greenville.
Easter Sunday – Breakfast at 9:00 am and worship at 10:30. (No Bible study)

Well, I pray I’ll see you Sunday.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Worship Notes for Lent 3 - 2013

Saturday in the week of Lent 3
March 9, 2013

The Lord be with you

Due to a busy week, not only am I slower than typical in getting these preview notes up, but they will be somewhat different in format.

This coming Sunday will be the 4th Sunday in Lent. Daylight Savings Time Begins. The Lections are: Isaiah 12:1-6; 2 Corinthians 5:16-21; and Luke 15:1-3, 11-32. The Liturgy is Divine Service 3, page 184. Changes to the Liturgy because of Lent are omitting the Gloria in Excelsis (page 187); substitution the seasonal verse for the Alleluia Verse (page 190), which is “The father said to his servants, ‘This my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’” This is taken from Sunday’s Gospel lesson. This is a Communion service. Sunday’s hymns are: Opening – “Praise to the Lord, the Almighty” LSB 790; Sermon – “Renew Me, O Eternal Light” LSB 704; Distribution – “On My Heart Imprint Your Image” LSB 422; “Jesus Comes Today with Healing” LSB 620; “Glory Be to Jesus” LSB 433; Closing – “Oh, That the Lord Would Guide My Ways” LSB 707. The choir will sing. The text for the sermon is 2 Corinthians 5:17. The sermon title is           “A New You.” Our prayers will include Rev. Gijsbertus van Hattem, President, Evangelical Lutheran Church in Belgium (ELFD); Anthony DiLiberto, missionary in Peru; persecuted believers in Eritrea, and sister congregations Grace, Greensboro, NC; St. Paul, Havelock, NC; Mt. Pisgah, Hendersonville, NC; Augustana & Christ, Hickory, NC; Good Shepherd, Charleston, SC.

Lesson Synopsis from the Synod
Jesus Calls You to Repentance
Unless you repent, you will all likewise perish (Luke 13:3, 5). By this warning, the Lord would turn us away from wickedness and bring us to life in Himself. For He is patient with us, that we not be cut down in our sin but live and bear fruit in Him. As He lives, the Lord has no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live (Ezek. 33:11). So the Scriptures have been written down for our instruction, on whom the end of the ages has come (1 Cor. 10:11), that we should not desire evil but trust in Christ. He alone is faithful, the Rock who feeds us with His spiritual food and pours out His spiritual drink (1 Cor. 10:3–4).

The Lessons

Isaiah 12:1-6 (the whole chapter)
12:1        You will say in that day:
            “I will give thanks to you, O LORD,
                        for though you were angry with me,
            your anger turned away,
                        that you might comfort me.
2           “Behold, God is my salvation;
                        I will trust, and will not be afraid;
            for the LORD GOD is my strength and my song,
                        and he has become my salvation.”
3           With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. 4And you will say in that day:
            “Give thanks to the LORD,
                        call upon his name,
            make known his deeds among the peoples,
                        proclaim that his name is exalted.
5           “Sing praises to the LORD, for he has done gloriously;
                        let this be made known in all the earth.
6           Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion,
                        for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.”

2 Corinthians 5:16-21
5:16        From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 17Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 18All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
Luke 15:1-3, 11-32
15:1        Now the tax collectors and sinners were all drawing near to hear him [Jesus]. 2And the Pharisees and the scribes grumbled, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.”
3           So he told them this parable: …
11          And he said, “There was a man who had two sons. 12And the younger of them said to his father, ‘Father, give me the share of property that is coming to me.’ And he divided his property between them. 13Not many days later, the younger son gathered all he had and took a journey into a far country, and there he squandered his property in reckless living. 14And when he had spent everything, a severe famine arose in that country, and he began to be in need. 15So he went and hired himself out to one of the citizens of that country, who sent him into his fields to feed pigs. 16And he was longing to be fed with the pods that the pigs ate, and no one gave him anything.
17          “But when he came to himself, he said, ‘How many of my father's hired servants have more than enough bread, but I perish here with hunger! 18I will arise and go to my father, and I will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. 19I am no longer worthy to be called your son. Treat me as one of your hired servants.”’ 20And he arose and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. 21And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and before you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.’ 22But the father said to his servants, ‘Bring quickly the best robe, and put it on him, and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet. 23And bring the fattened calf and kill it, and let us eat and celebrate. 24For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found.’ And they began to celebrate.
25          “Now his older son was in the field, and as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing. 26And he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant. 27And he said to him, ‘Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and sound.’ 28But he was angry and refused to go in. His father came out and entreated him, 29but he answered his father, ‘Look, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed your command, yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might celebrate with my friends. 30But when this son of yours came, who has devoured your property with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him!’ 31And he said to him, ‘Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours. 32It was fitting to celebrate and be glad, for this your brother was dead, and is alive; he was lost, and is found.’”


  • Daylight Savings Time begins Sunday (Spring forward.) Set your clocks forward one hour before going to bed (we lose an hour of sleep). Really, this week I’m right.

  • As most of our members surly know, our heater is broken, and I mean broken. We will need a new one. We have a number of space heaters, which will make the place okay, but certainly not warm. You might want to dress warmer than usual, but do so in layers so you can take off a layer or two as the place warms up.  

  • Our Stations of the Cross have been posted. They will remain up throughout Lent.

  • Each Wednesday throughout Lent we will have two worship services (12:15 and 7:00 PM). The evening service is preceded by a soup supper (6:15 PM). All are welcome.

  • Choir practice follows the Wednesday evening Lent service.

Well, I pray I’ll see you Sunday.

Blessings in Christ,
Pastor John Rickert